On diversity

On occasion, I take photos to accompany the articles I write. I’m not a photographer, by any means, but digital cameras make it easy for anyone with a half-decent eye to create half-decent images. Recently, an article I wrote was accompanied by images I took of all of my sources. No problem there. Except, as several readers pointed out to my editor, it made it glaringly obvious that all of my sources were white. Every single one of them. In an article where a diversity of voices would have been welcome, I managed to interview only people from the same ethnic background.

When preparing the story, I was careful to achieve geographic diversity – setting up interviews in several communities in the greater Dayton area – but I failed to think beyond location. It’s a beginner’s mistake and one I’m surprised I made. I’ve spent years working in higher education, where diversity is loudly and enthusiastically documented and promoted (especially in public relations’ offices) and probably much more so than it is in the non-academic world. So here I am now, in the real world, and in the rush to get a story done and sorted, I managed to ignore a vast swath of the community I live in. I think each and every person that I did interview had something valuable to say and I think they gave me wonderful material for a story which I still feel reads well. But, there’s no way of knowing what I missed out on hearing if I had just thought to cast a wider net.  I’m glad a few people thought to bring it to my attention. It’s good to be reminded again that it’s a big, big, world out there.